From the foundation of the association to 1933, the Eastern Alps were glorified and politically mobilised in the publications of the Deutsch Oesterreichischer Alpenverein. This paper also shows, however, how constructions of the Alps, and activities within them, were the subject of contestation. We examine where competing visions of the space led to the increasing politicisation of an organisation which repeatedly sought to emphasise its apolitical nature. Given that this period encompasses the Austro-Prussian War, the separate formation of the German Empire, and repeated calls for Anschluß, the Verein's emphasis on a unified Germanness, which excluded non-German inhabitants of the region, was clearly politically charged. This discussion offers a case study which suggests the importance of attitudes and emotional responses to space and place in the formation of collective identities.